Jeep Hack Leads FCA to Offer Software Update

Stephen Elmer
by Stephen Elmer

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has announced a software update for its models to improve safety.

FCA quietly made the safety update announcement on July 16, which at the time went mostly unnoticed. That is until news broke five days later on Wired that two hackers were able to access many functions on a 2014 Jeep Cherokee remotely.

Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, two professional hackers, were able to remotely take control of the vehicle’s air conditioning, radio and windshield wipers, all from the comfort of their living room. They were also able to disable the brakes and shut off the vehicle’s engine.

They accessed the Cherokee through a vulnerability in FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system, which hooks up to the internet using a cellular data connection.

SEE ALSO: Jeep Cherokee, Uconnect Vulnerable to Wireless Hacking

The hackers notified FCA of the weakness and worked with the company to come up with a secure solution to protect the brand’s vehicles from hackers.

“Similar to a smartphone or tablet, vehicle software can require updates for improved security protection to reduce the potential risk of unauthorized and unlawful access to vehicle systems,” said FCA in a statement.

The software update will be provided at no cost to customers and also includes other improvements to the system. “Customers can either download and install this particular update themselves or, if preferred, their dealer can complete this one-time update at no cost to customers.”

The 8.4-inch touchscreen Uconnect system is available on all 2013-2014 Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram vehicles along with the 2015 Chrysler 200.

Miller and Valasek say that they plan on releasing part of the code at the Black Hat security conference, though they say it won’t be enough to allow other hackers to access Chrysler’s Uconnect system. Despite this, FCA is not in favor of the idea, saying “Under no circumstances does FCA condone or believe it’s appropriate to disclose ‘how-to information’ that would potentially encourage, or help enable hackers to gain unauthorised and unlawful access to vehicle systems.”

Stephen Elmer
Stephen Elmer

Stephen covers all of the day-to-day events of the industry as the News Editor at AutoGuide, along with being the AG truck expert. His truck knowledge comes from working long days on the woodlot with pickups and driving straight trucks professionally. When not at his desk, Steve can be found playing his bass or riding his snowmobile or Sea-Doo. Find Stephen on <A title="@Selmer07 on Twitter" href="">Twitter</A> and <A title="Stephen on Google+" href="">Google+</A>

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5 of 15 comments
  • DevilDog58 DevilDog58 on Aug 13, 2015

    This is the depressing part about the wonderful world of technology. I, like most American men, love technology and the way it keeps advancing, giving us information, GPS capabilities, more power, etc. But whenever men build something there are always those who want to destroy it, if for no other reason than to prove they can. Maybe auto manufacturers should hire "hackers" to search for weaknesses in their hardware & software so as to be able to better protect it.

    • See 2 previous
    • KSDroid01 KSDroid01 on Aug 17, 2015

      Fortunately, the hackers in this case were "white hats" and shared details of what they were doing with Chrysler well in advance of making the story public, early enough that Chrysler had a radio firmware patch available before the story hit the streets. I think what this really demonstrates that although car designers are incredibly capable of implementing connected technologies inside the "black box" boundary of a vehicle, they are woefully unprepared for the realities of security needs when connecting to systems outside that box - they can and should take lessons from manufacturers of phone systems, wifi systems, etc.

  • JJShark JJShark on Aug 14, 2015

    I remember when I bought my first car with power windows. My father said "Just another electrical gizmo that can go wrong". Thought he was just being an old grump then. Sometimes now Im not so sure haha